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Mar 29, 2008 10:35 PM

Napa dining with kids - report

We took a day trip up to Napa for a little celebration with our 4 year old and 6 year old boys. We wanted to try Ubuntu and Ad Hoc, along with a few other places and felt that those were in-reach with the kids (unlike Cyrus, which will have to wait).

We started the day with a quick breakfast at Oxbow Market. The market opened an hour later than the hours online said, so we quickly let the kids pick out something at Model Bakery, which was open earlier. They made a granola free yogurt parfait for my son (he is allergic to the granola), and my other son picked out the healthiest muffin - bran. But they both ate it and my husband said the bran muffin was good. Pica Pica Maize Kitchen. We all shared an arepa (skirt steak, plantain and black bean) and a cachapa with cheese. Both were good, tons of cheese in the cachapa (which is a sweet corn pancake) - it was fast food, but better than a lot of the fast food options.

Lunch was at Ubuntu. They welcomed the boys with crayons, but I couldn't help but think the couple next to us was less than excited about the kids (even though I think they were relatively well behaved). We only ordered fries off the kids menu, since the boys had eaten quite a bit that morning. We started with the almonds with salt and lavender sugar. Very good, exactly as you would expect, and the boys loved these. Then, the beet salad with mashed avocado, grapefruit and cubeb pepper. This was fantastic - there was a "sauce" on the beets that I just loved, but have no idea what it was, and my husband really loved the avocado, which had some light garlic, salt and lime I think, but in perfect balance. We then had the radish and nori and goat cheese dish. I liked it (I love nori), husband wasn't too excited about the flavor combo, but ate his share, and son said it tasted like sushi and didn't eat much more. Next was the farm egg on rubichon potatoes with braised greens. The greens in this dish were fantastic, with a lemony twist, and the mushroom bordelaise was slightly sweet and flavorful. Very good. Son said it was pretty good. Next up was the cauliflower - very very rich, so smooth. Son didn't like it, which I was surprised by... Then we had the grits with fava greens and asparagus carrot puree - the grits were tasty, son declared the dish (sans greens) like yummy corn with carrot halwa. I wanted the fava to shine more in the dish, but loved the grits.

We stopped by Woodhouse chocolates and Bouchon bakery that afternoon. chocolates were good, especially the honey. Bouchon macaroons - hazelnut was very good, caramel - good but chewy of course, and pistachio mediocre.

Dinner was at Ad Hoc. The whole meal was good, but the salad was the best food we ate all weekend. Romaine, asparagus, pea shoots, serrano ham, just fantastic fresh veggies where the flavor of the veggies really shined. Second course was chicken with shrimp, romesco and saffron rice. The rice was al dente, which I like. The chicken I could see some feeling it was underdone, one piece was less done than the rest, but it tasted great and the shrimp were perfect. The romesco was fantastic. The cheese course was great with Marshall Farms' honey. Dessert - they made soemthing special because we couldn't have the dessert - pomegranate granita (I assume they keep this on hand for allergies). I was dissappointed when they fruit said that was what they were going to do, but it was really really good. I wasn't disappointed at all in the end.

We then headed for a night in SF, breakfast at Primavera (good as always), battle of the macarons (Miette was mediocre - lacked the texture of the shell, Opera from Andronicos was surprisingly better).

Now I have eaten way too much food and can only think of salad for the next week. Good thing we have a fridge full of CSA veggies and fruit!

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  1. Thanks for the report back! I didn't realize that Ubuntu has a kid's menu...good to know, and definitely puts it in the kid friendly category...

    Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
    1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

    1. Your boys sat through two long meals, as well as all that driving. I am in awe.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Glencora

        My kids do like food, so that helped, but we also took my 4 year old out for a walk mid-way through the Ad Hoc meal. They have a garden area nearby (or attached??? I sent my husband on the walk) On Saturday though after the market , which they love, we had to give them several hours at Golden Gate park to run around and be kids!

      2. Good to see a Napa report with kids. "Started the day with a quick breakfast at Oxbow Market". With kids, I'm impressed. What time did you leave home?

        1 Reply
        1. re: ceekskat

          We staying in Concord overnight because we had some late business in Oakland and didn't want to drive back to the Peninsula (and Hotwire had a great deal). We had to do the Model bakery for the kids though because they were hungry.

        2. One thing I forgot to mention, since the Ad Hoc meal, although it was hands down the best meal of our trip, they did charge full price for my 6 year old...although we were led to believe that there would be a special kids menu. My 4 year old who is not allergic to wheat was served pasta - way too large of a bowl and he didn't like it, but my husband said it was really good. My 4 year old was just not wanting pasta and doesn't eat it that much. My husband protested the bill, and said it was taken care of, but I don't know what that means. They were SO nice and accommodating I felt bad, but $50 for the extra piece of chicken they served my son was excessive. The other portions didn't look any bigger than the tables of 2 around us, but perhaps they were.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jsaimd

            I was going to ask about Ad Hoc's price for kids. Our 8 year old has asked to come along when we've dined here, but I just can't see paying the same price if he's eating half the amount.

            1. re: Cindy

              Well - the first kid they say was around $15 and the they say they always charge full price for the second child. I would just call ahead and ask what their policy is...I think we ended up with $30 for the 2 kids in the end - which was fine. They didn't eat much, but they tried everything and the food was good.